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Drinking Water Contaminant Categories

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Published on Nov 9, 2016

Water makes up approximately 60% of a typical adult male’s body. The percentage is slightly lower in adult females, but is even higher in babies and young children. Water serves a number of essential functions and is a vital component of every cell in the human body.

Access to clean water is a crucial ingredient for a healthy life. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to drinking water that is free of contaminants that could cause health concerns.

The Safe Drinking Water Act defines the term "contaminant" as meaning any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance or matter in water. Therefore, the law defines "contaminant" very broadly as being anything other than water molecules.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. Some drinking water contaminants may be harmful if consumed at certain levels while others may be harmless. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.

The EPA provides general categories of drinking water contaminants, they include the following:
• Physical contaminants primarily impact the appearance or other physical properties of water. Examples include sediment or organic material suspended in water.
• Chemical contaminants are elements or compounds. These contaminants may be naturally occurring or man-made. Examples include nitrogen, bleach, salts, pesticides, metals, toxins produced by bacteria, and human or animal drugs.
• Biological contaminants are organisms in water. They are also referred to as microbes or microbiological contaminants. Examples include bacteria, viruses, protozoan and parasites.
• Radiological contaminants are chemical elements with an unbalanced number of protons and neutrons resulting in unstable atoms that can emit ionizing radiation. Examples include cesium, plutonium and uranium.

These are just a few things to know about different categories of drinking water contaminants. To learn more about this or other environmental, health, safety or occupational issues, please visit the websites shown below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
VOETS - Verification, Operations and Environmental Testing Services http://www.voets.nyc

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